United States: Pillsbury Winthrop Launches 2003 Summer Associate Program with New Upgraded Program
Last Updated: June 10 2003

New York, NY – In the Fall of 2002 a group of attorneys at Pillsbury Winthrop LLP, one of New York City’s oldest law firms, reviewed their summer associate program and concluded some radical changes were needed. This year, the firm has redoubled its commitment to the summer program, which started May 21. The 2003 class of summer associates will now get a more hands-on learning environment and insight into the heart and character of the firm. Challenging work assignments are lined up, the budget has been increased by 25% for social events, and there will be ample room for individual feedback by partners and associates. In addition, summer associates have the opportunity to attend a full range of training seminars on topics such as legal writing, legal ethics, business development and understanding corporate transactions.

"We took a hard look at our summer associate program and realized that not enough attorneys were participating in it," stated Eric Fishman, partner with Pillsbury Winthrop’s New York office and summer program chair. "After assessing the needs of our incoming summer associates, we built a program that offers them interesting and varied work. Focusing on the value of daily work assignments, we enhanced several areas to make our program great."

As part of the roll-out, all of the partners and associates signed-up in advance for particular summer functions, which are to be given the same priority as any other business commitment.

"The vast majority of Pillsbury Winthrop’s associates are graduates of its summer program," said Dorrie Ciavatta, director of legal employment and a summer committee member. "The first thing the summer committee did was meet with the attorneys in every department to emphasize the importance of the program and that it is at the heart of our recruiting efforts,"

Additionally, the firm has simplified the method for assigning work to summer associates, increased funding for summer pro bono and social events and assigned each summer associate to a client team.

Acting as mentors for the summer associates, a work advisors committee plays a proactive role in the development of a program which facilitates dedicated summer associate assignments, including the increased involvement of business development training. Each summer associate will be assigned a partner advisor, an associate work advisor and a first-year associate advisor to oversee their progress throughout the term. The assigning lawyers, at the completion of each assignment, will complete evaluation forms. Each summer associate will receive a mid-term review as well as an exit interview.

The firm also created an events committee, which ensures strong participation from both partners and associates by keeping this program as a top priority. It has developed an itinerary which includes City Bar Association functions, a contribution to Habitat for Humanity where partners, associates and summer associates will work together for one weekend to build a house, advocacy and negotiation training seminars, theater and museum outings, ball games and picnics at partner homes.

The summer associate Program provides a great opportunity for law school students to get acquainted with the work that they will eventually perform as attorneys. The program also provides them with an inside look at what it is like to practice at Pillsbury Winthrop on a daily basis, allowing each summer associate the opportunity to work with people at the firm within a comfortable environment while also having a lot of fun. Over the course of the program, the summer associates will learn the art of negotiating deals, drafting contracts and loan documents, brief writing, taking and defending depositions, alternative dispute resolution, and due diligence.

Each summer associate will have an opportunity to take assignments in all of the firm’s practice areas as needs arise throughout the term. These practice areas include Insolvency, Corporate Restructure & Creditors’ Rights, Corporate & Securities, Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits, Finance, Individual Client Services, Intellectual Property, Employment & Labor, Litigation, Real Estate, Project Development & Construction Practice (including Public works) and Tax. The length of time spent in each practice area depends on the project to which the summer associate is assigned.

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